2019 Lincoln Nautilus first drive review: Deep dive into crossover luxury


“Underway on nuclear power!”

That was the message from the USS Nautilus following its 1954 launch as the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. From behind the wheel, the optional 335-horsepower, 380-pound-feet, 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 in the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus is silent and powerful enough to be mistaken for atomic power as it propels this stylish crossover SUV through uncharted waters. Or roads, more likely.

Power plus

The standard 2.0-liter turbo-4 produces 250 hp and 280 lb-ft in a way that feels exactly like an internal combustion engine rather than a nuclear reactor. The 2.0-liter’s accomplishment is that it is impossible to guess how many cylinders the engine has because its power and civility do not hint that it is a turbo-4, an engine type commonly associated with economy cars rather than serene, prestige-brand crossovers like the Nautilus.

DON'T MISS: 2019 Lincoln Nautilus priced to start at $41,335

In both engines, engineers have tamed the clattering diesel-like noise that is typical of gasoline direct-injected engines.

The new 8-speed automatic slides among its available ratios imperceptibly, always selecting the appropriate gear, whether cruising the interstate or passing slower cars on mountain roads. Programming this behavior is tougher than you’d think, so kudos to the development team for this success.

2019 Lincoln Nautilus first drive review

2019 Lincoln Nautilus first drive review

As with other Lincolns, the Nautilus uses pushbuttons to operate the transmission, a solution we don’t care for as an alternative to a conventional shifter.

These drivetrains not only produce effortless speed, but also they do it efficiently. The base 2.0-liter engine’s EPA city rating of 21 mpg is a 4 mpg improvement over the 17 mpg of the outgoing MKX’s 3.7-liter V-6. Highway efficiency is 25 mpg and the combined number is 23 mpg. The robust 2.7-liter V-6 returns scores of 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined.

The base price for the 2019 Nautilus is $41,335, including $995 for destination and delivery, but options ballooned the bottom line on our Nautilus AWD Reserve test car to an eye-opening $64,375.

MUST READ: Lincoln asking top dealers to create stand-alone showrooms

Among the options that contribute to the considerable price, the Nautilus introduces Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360, a suite of driver-assistance technologies that include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic emergency braking. A new addition for Lincoln is active lane control that the company claims will help steer the car.

But this isn’t a system that intervenes with some input if you start to wander out of the lane. Rather, it is more of a co-driver that tries to steer for you, but also requires some participation on the driver’s part. In practice, it feels like the worst of both worlds. It doesn’t steer automatically, but it does fight with the driver for control if the driver steers as normal.

On roads where a single lane widens to two, the system automatically steers into the new left lane, rather than the right one, where it belongs. Fortunately, this system turns off.


 
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